If you are reading this because you are curious if it is safe to run a half marathon while pregnant, more specifically in your third trimester, you should consult your doctor or midwife. This is my experience and I am not qualified to give medical advice.
Since announcing my pregnancy, people have been very honest in letting me know their admiration, disapproval and disbelief that I was going to attempt to run a half marathon in San Francisco during my third trimester. Yesterday I ran the race, survived obviously and now I’m sharing my experience.
I trained all summer and fall after I was invited by ClassPass to join their blogger team. The longest run that I did was 10 miles but I should note for new readers, I ran the Boston Marathon 4 weeks pregnant so I was already in running shape. I continued to run about 3-4 times a week, usually between 3 and 6 miles, some speed work that included walk/run intervals. My plan was to do a walk/run during the race. I chose to run 3 minutes and walk for 1 minute, with additional walking up the steep hills. I had hoped I would finish under 2:30 but was prepared for somewhere between an 11 and 13 minute mile.
I laid out my Nike Women’s outfit the night before and woke up at 5:15am. Breakfast was a whole wheat bagel with Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter and cup of black coffee. Usually, I bring my own breakfast and have a pre-workout energy drink. I was told to avoid Devil’s Claw by the MGH Nutritionist so I couldn’t take my trusted Vega Energizer.
We stayed at the Westin in Union Square and were able to walk right out to the corral areas for the 6:30am starting time. It was pretty well organized but as usual had super long bathroom lines… I mean there were 20,000 women running, I expected this.
I signed up for the 9-10 minute mile corral initially since that would be my running pace. I wasn’t tired, or nervous at all really. I was ready to run and excited to get the race over with. A few people commented on my bump and how impressed they were that I was running. It made me feel good, not judged. It was perfect running weather in my opinion in the mid 60’s.
Since wave one was so large, it took about 20 minutes for wave two to cross the starting line. I got emotional, put my earphones in, started my watch and began running for two.
The first mile was a mild steady incline. I was shocked at how many people were walking from the start, especially since everyone ahead of me should have been running a sub 9 minute mile. I know I said I wanted to do a 3:1 run:walk but I couldn’t help myself to start with a 4:1. I told myself after the first couple miles I would follow my plan.
The first “bathroom” was one port-a-potty with a huge line. “Seriously??! One bathroom! I hope this is not the case for the rest of the race,” I thought to myself. Luckily it wasn’t. I didn’t stop at only two bathroom locations. This was one of them.
I was warned that there would be a giant hill at mile ten but other than that it was fairly “flat” for San Fransisco. There were a couple hills that I was not expecting and I gladly walked them. Again, to my surprise there were tons of people walking as well! I thought it would be hard for me to walk during a race but since there were so many other runners walking, it wasn’t at all.
I was running around a 10 minute mile and with my 3:1 walk breaks averaging an 11 minute mile. I would sometimes forget to walk but never ran longer than 5 minutes. I never vlog races or stop to take pictures or selfies but since I wasn’t going for time, I made it a priority to document my experience. So did many other runners, I mean with views like this, how could you not?
I walked the water stations which were along the course in about 2 mile increments. It’s important to keep your body temperature down as a pregnant athlete and the hydration helps regulate. It also allowed me to lower my heart rate. I wore a Garmin gifted to me through ClassPass and kept my HR below 160 bpm. Around mile 5, similar to my 10K I noticed my pelvic area begin to feel sore. I know many people who stopped running during their 6 month of pregnancy. Now in my 7th, I think I finally realize this feeling.
So how does it feel? Like someone, a professional NFL kicker, kicked you between the legs or an uncomfortable seat during a 2 hour indoor cycling class. Your hips are stretching to make way for baby and it’s just an unfortunate feeling. You can’t help but waddle instead of walk.
The feeling obviously increased as the race progressed. I began to take more pictures and videos after seeing everyone else doing it. As a result, my pace slowed down dramatically.
For mid run fuel, I grabbed a vanilla Honey Stinger gel. I also had a few Pro Bar energy blocks around mile 8 and then 10.
Mile 10… oh, the mile long steep hill that people warned us about? I gladly walked up but the energy was contagious! Spotify was playing music, the Nike Trainers were cheering along with a bunch of other spectators. The view was breathtaking. One trainer shouted at us from the side lines, “Just two minutes and you’ll be up at the top. You can do it, just run for 2 minutes.” Good effort cute dude, but this lady kept walking and snapping pictures and taking video. So did many of the other runners. It seemed like everyone had the same game plan as me, to run for fun and finish.
I don’t know why I thought I would be one of the last ones to finish. I actually called Nick at mile 10 to tell him how ridiculously steep and long the hill was and how glad I was pregnant because I’m too competitive to have walked it if I weren’t. I also called to tell him I felt great and would be finishing soon. He, along with my mother and many concerned readers, wanted me to “take it easy” and “listen to my body.”
After the mile uphill challenge, the pelvis area was ready to be done. It was a steep downhill and then flat to the finish. I continued to do my 3:1 run:walk intervals.
My face here pretty much sums up how I felt. “I’m gonna finish but I’m not enjoying this anymore.” If you didn’t know I was pregnant, you totally would just think I put on a solid 15 lbs in this picture – which I have, but I swear there is a baby in there as well.
As I neared the finish line, I ran the last 5 minutes. I stopped my music to hear the crowd and overheard a lady go, “That girl is pregnant.” Her tone sounded snarky but I think it was more me being self conscious. I crossed the finish line and wiped away a few tears, happy to be done, proud that I did it and just emotional because I’m 7 months pregnant and I ran 13.1 miles with my little man!
I finished with a time of 2:37 which is 50 minutes slower than my half marathon PR. I want to tell you that I don’t care but I am pretty proud that I came in the top 49% of my age group.
We took some pictures, I had a banana and Vega Post Workout mocha mix with water right away. I sat down and needed help getting up. My legs were not sore like I ran a marathon but my hips were very achey and it was impossible to stand on one leg without holding on to someone oddly. My walk was slow and looked like a 9 month pregnant lady waddle.
We had brunch at Greens Restaurant and I enjoyed the Pinnacle Eggs which came with tortillas, and an assortment of salsas. As well as some pancakes 🙂 The ClassPass Runner team was made up of 5 bloggers: Myself, Anne, Emily, Jane, Kristen and Jackelyn. We took a silly group picture that I kind of ruined? The side view is very different from the front.
Anne, Emily and I went back to the race village and stretched on the green while enjoying the perfect weather. We finally took a Lyft back to the hotel for our massages with Zeel! After my first SF visit, my only complaint was how hard it was to get around the city. We had to walk 3 miles home after running the Urbanathlon 5 years ago because we couldn’t get a cab. Thank god for ride sharing services as that is no longer an issue. Lyft was always just a minute away.
ClassPass got us some post workout treats including caramel popcorn from Kara’s Cupcakes. Baby hadn’t noticeably kicked me all day until I had some! There were some mean comments on my Instagram and YouTube from anonymous users saying I shouldn’t run and that I was going to have a miscarriage. I deleted them because they felt disingenuous but when baby hadn’t moved I feared for the worst. Emily told me that I may not have felt him all day due to Braxton Hicks contractions which firm up your uterus. She couldn’t feel her sons kicks when this happened either. I had no idea and was just happy when he finally woke up. Today he has been ridiculously active.
Zeel is like the Lyft of massages. You book online using an app and then the massage therapist comes to your home or hotel in my case. I had a “prenatal” massage but was more of a post workout deep tissue with prenatal considerations. My therapist Amber was amazing and was not afraid to go deep which is my complaint with a standard prenatal. They are not in Boston yet, but are in many west coast cities.
Post massage, my body was tired. I didn’t feel great. I laid in bed until it was time to eat dinner with my high school friend Jess, who now lives in SF. I was in bed by 9:30 and fell right asleep.
Twenty-four hours later, I feel good! My hips are still slightly sore but not bad. I do not regret signing up for the half marathon at 28, almost 29 weeks pregnant. I loved the challenge and know I would not have been this active during my pregnancy if I hadn’t. I’m excited to start using indoor cycling, strength training, yoga and Pilates exclusively. I may run 3 miles here or there but I think my hips will appreciate a nice break.
Moral of the story: You can run a half marathon during your third trimester as long as your doctor says it is OK and you feel comfortable doing it. My midwife said that as long as I felt good, I could continue, which I did. Every pregnancy is different I know and if I was any bigger, I may have had more discomfort. Happy to be done, but happy I did it.
Did you run during pregnancy? If so or if not, when did you stop?
I was not compensated for my participation but was give a complementary entry to the race and membership during my training from ClassPass. They also provided us with our hotel. ClassPass also initiated and negotiated a variety of perks for us during our visit, including Lyft credits, brunch, and Zeel services in exchange for social media exposure.
You are an inspiration and it is SOOO great to read this before my first half-marathon in two weeks. I wish I would have been as active pregnant with my two sons as you are. Reading your half marathon experience and following your overall amazingness has given me fuel for flight!
Great job girl and those pants are adorable!! I’m so glad we were able to see each other but thankful you have a few restful weeks before you meet your homeboy!
Kristy B says
Hah! Loved this recap, Sarah. Well done listening to your body!
Rock on! Way to go! After I got over first trimester nausea, running was the first thing I wanted to do but it was just too uncomfortable. I continued up until delivery to do CrossFit and ran 400-800 meters during WODs but long distances was definitely out. You should be proud of yourself! Now enjoy those spin classes, strength training, yoga & Pilates. ?
So awesome!! Im at 17 weeks and I already find people putting in their two cents..” you shouldnt be lifting anything heavy” when I was literally carrying around a 5 pound box. People get ridiculous. Im keeping up with 5ks and would like to do more but I can only motivate myself to walk/jog on my own..so that is why I am sticking with the shorter distances. I think its great you were able to keep up training and ran a half marathon that late in the pregnancy..awesome! !
Thank you for your fun and honest recap! And congrats on finishing and running a smart race! 🙂 I don´t understand why people need to judge and give rude comments… everyone and every pregnancy is so different!! I stopped running around 28 weeks of my pregnancy too but I couldn´t have run a half marathon at that point, haha! I hated the constant need to pee and the pelvic discomfort…but I ran a half at 16 weeks pregnant and that was great for me. It´s been great following your pregnancy, keep up with the good work!
Good for you Sarah! Everyone is different and I’m glad you’re shedding a light on exercising when you’re pregnant. If it feels good, do it. Congratulations and I hope you can enjoy a rest now! X
I don’t understand mean comments, “today is a beautiful day, I’m gonna try to make some people sad on the internet”?
You are incredible! I’m training for some 5k, which may sound nothing compared to marathons, but it’s quite challenging for me 🙂 And your videos and experiences about running help me a lot! Mainly when I feel I can’t do it anymore, you are really inspiring!
I’m not pregnant and I’m not planning to be in the near future, so I can’t add my experience… but I love reading and watching you so, when the time comes, I will be ready to keep an active lifestyle!
I don’t run.. at all hahaha I love long walks and my toning routines but running… not my thing.
I’ve been reading this post with a smile on my face, feeling your excitement. I was worried but as I always say, and you said it too, as long as we listen to our body everything will be fine.
Congratulations for this amazing accomplishment Sarah!!
Niamh Moore. says
Hi Sarah, Just a quick note to say WELL DONE! I think you are inspirational, I find your posts are keeping me on track and focused during my 1st pregnancy (21weeks). I am also a Personal Trainer all the way from Ireland. Never doubt yourself, Hope the rest of your pregnancy goes great for you. x
I had to stop running at 5 months with my first child because I kept getting awful cramps and was told by the doctor to stop. This time around I’m still running but sticking to 5K distances to be safe, but no cramps and I’m 15 weeks with my second. I think you’re so badass and find your posts very motivating to keep up my fitness with #2.
Congratulations!! I am 25 weeks pregnant, but gave up running early on because it just didn’t feel right for me. I miss it so much 🙂 I have been able to continue to take spin classes, though! I have started noticing a bit of pelvic pressure while doing this though. Have you experienced similar by chance? Guessing I should probably back down the resistance a bit more and lay off of some of the climbs and jumps. So hard for someone who likes to push so hard. Anyway, congratulations again on your half!! It is awesome to stay active!
I haven’t been spinning in a few weeks. Planning to go tomorrow and will report back!!
Anne Mauney, MPH, RD (@fANNEtasticfood) says
You are so awesome. Had such a blast running and hanging with you this weekend! xo
Good for you! I’m 39 weeks pregnant this week and ran on a regular basis until 35 weeks when it just didn’t feel good anymore. I did a half marathon at 12 weeks along and a sprint triathlon at 23 weeks along and my baby is perfectly healthy! People are ignorant and can be haters, just ignore them! 🙂 I’m still walking 2-3 miles each day, lifting weights at the gym, and going to yoga once a week.
Love hearing this! A sprint tri!!? Good for you. That’s awesome stuff
Kelsey M. says
OMG! I am so freaking happy for you! That looked like an amazing race! The views! I’m glad it went so well! Congrats 🙂
You go girl!! I ran up until I was 34 weeks pregnant, and didn’t stop b/c of stomach discomfort, but b/c I rolled my ankle and the 20+ lbs I was carrying made that ankle very angry. My little girl is almost 6 months old and I ran the Army 10 Miler a couple weeks ago. I got emotional at the race as well b/c I was so proud of myself and my body for being able to do it less than 6 months after giving birth. I will tell you this, after you give birth to your little boy, you will see your body in a whole new way. Making and delivering a baby is the hardest thing you can do and you feel a whole new appreciation/confidence in your body. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy! 🙂
Thanks Krystina for sharing. Loved reading this. I hope I can run 10 miles 6 months after delivery.
Daisy @ Fit Wanderlust Runner says
I think it’s great you were able to run a half marathon during your third trimester. And seriously each body is different so I can’t believe you got some negativity over it. You are amazing!
Angela @ Witty Aspirations says
Congratulations on finishing the race! It looks like an awesome race to do. Sorry for all the mean comments you are receiving. Keep doing what feels right to YOU! Best wishes for the rest of your pregnancy!
Congrats on a great race- I love to see women spreading the message of staying active during pregnancy! I ran until delivery at 41+ weeks. It wasn’t always easy and I definitely slowed down but I felt fantastic and loved the way it made me feel (minus the post run groin pain!). I attribute staying active to a quick recovery. And now 2 years later I’ve pr’ed every distance from 5k-50k! Without a community of strong women, I’m not sure this would’ve been possible. Can’t wait to follow the rest of your journey!
I actually ran a half marathon at 6 weeks and then stopped running. My hips could not take it. I actually had to wear a pelvic support belt for most of my second pregnancy. Ouch! That said, I am super impressed with your accomplishment!
Kayla in the City says
Congratulations and how amazing!
I was also so so surprised with the amount of people walking even during the start of the race, I’m in taper for a marathon so knew I didn’t want to push it on the hills, made it much easier to walk throughout the race.
Samantha @ HealthyHuggyHappy says
Thank you for posting your experiences and for being open and honest! You are a major inspiration for me! Sometimes I think that if I have get pregnant/have kids, the things I love (like running) will go away, but that’s really not true. And I know from what you’ve said that if it doesn’t feel good, the priority is the baby and that’s a feeling I know I won’t fully understand until I’m in that place. Congratulations on being awesome! Your son will be so proud to hear this story one day 🙂
Liz A says
32 years ago my mom ran the Tufts 10k in Boston about 5 months pregnant with me and people thought she was nuts as no one was doing that. But even back then her doctor said you can keep doing what you normally do as long as its comfortable, and for her it was. Glad this was for you too! And your opinion of your body is the only one that matters. Love your posts and glad the race went well.
You are amazing! I ran until the day I went in to labor with my first and up to 15 km until 26 weeks ish then decreased down to 3-4 km at the end. I just ran a half last weekend at 12 weeks pregnant and somehow did it in under 2 hours I wasn’t racing and just running for the love of it! I’m showing quick this time around. I was this size belly wise at 18-20 weeks but oddly I have only gained 3 lbs. so I’ll take it! I gained 12 lbs my first tri last time and 23 overall. I was underweight after training for and running a marathon so my body just needed to gain it fast I guess:) Are you going to do any prenatal workouts?? I keep checking your channel to see if you have yet:) Keep up the great work and awesome job at the half! Such a sin people felt like they needed to judge you!
They are coming! We shot a bunch of videos but they are being edited.
Did you know about running support belts? By Gabriella and they take the pressure off your pelvis when running! That’s what kept me running until the end with my first!
I’ll have to check them out!
I got mine on Amazon through a recommendation from NYC running mama, Michele Gonzales!
I too have been keeping super active despite comments from everyone except my supportive husband to take it easy because I am “high risk”. My previous pregnancy was horrible (carpal tunnel, exhaustion, bad sinus infections and constant colds, etc) and my water broke at only 24 weeks (my daughter is alive and healthy despite her micro-prematurity and is now a 4 year old runner who completed several 5K runs this summer with me with one more to go). My doctor approved my running and honestly this has been the easiest pregnancy I could have asked for. I attribute it to being active. I have had a lot of painful pelvic pressure so 5K is about all as my body can stand at one time but it feels good to compete. Im running my last 5K race at 33 weeks but will keep up with my cardio workouts until my delivery day.
Once I am recovered I will be training for 10K and half marathons next summer and am really looking forward to it.
It is nice to hear that other people are not letting their pregnancy stop them (even if we have to slow down). Thank you for sharing your race story.
Thank you for sharing your story Victoria!!
Elizabeth Kostrub says
I’m glad that I found this. I’m ttc and realized that if successful I’ll be 7 months on my half marathon day!!!